Dubai: Sea turtle released from Jumeirah Beach reaches Thailand

These animals have also travelled to nesting grounds in India, Pakistan, Oman, and places throughout the Gulf region


Waad Barakat

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KT Photos: Waad Barakat
KT Photos: Waad Barakat

Published: Wed 12 Jun 2024, 1:57 PM

Last updated: Wed 12 Jun 2024, 7:33 PM

A turtle released from Dubai, a few years ago, safely made her way over 3,000km across the Indian Ocean to the coast of Thailand in good health, tracking data has shown.

Injured turtles that are rehabilitated in Dubai are released into the open waters after they recover. They are fitted with satellite tracking devices so that authorities in Dubai can track their progress.

The animal’s journey to Thailand was revealed by an executive. The Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project has released 63 turtles from Jumeirah Beach.

The tracking data reveals how much distance sea turtles can cover.

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Barbara Lang-Lenton, Director of the Aquarium at Jumeirah's flagship Burj Al Arab, noted that "sea turtles migrate long distances" and provided other examples of these animals travelling to nesting grounds in India, Pakistan, Oman, and places throughout the Gulf region.

Barbara Lang-Lenton
Barbara Lang-Lenton

"We had turtles nesting in India, travelling to Pakistan, and all the Gulf countries. We had turtles swimming all around the Gulf and returning."

According to the executive, the project has helped rescue, rehabilitate, and release 2,175 sea turtles of four species.

"92 of them have been tracked with satellite transmitters, and this is a very big achievement for Jumeirah and the country," she said.

The Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project, which started 20 years ago, has been at the forefront of marine conservation in the region. The project's efforts in releasing turtles have been bolstered by growing momentum and collaborative support from governments, institutions, and the Emirati population.

Watch below, a video of a turtle being released:

The project's satellite tracking devices in turtles serve two purposes. They help researchers ensure the success of rehabilitation, and also help monitor turtle migration patterns, which can span thousands of kilometres.

"We want to make sure rehabilitation is successful, and when we release turtles back into the wild, they survive," Lang-Lenton explained. "We can share that information with the government authorities, and it can help them make decisions about what areas are more frequently visited by turtles and should be protected."

The project's success has also been fuelled by the growing awareness and participation of the public. "When we began, the first few years we did not receive many stranded animals because awareness began in 2004. Immediately, we started school programs with guests, educational talks, and we invited them to participate in turtle releases," she said.

The introduction of a toll-free number, 800 turtles, has been a game-changer, making it easier for the public to report and assist in sea turtle rescue.

"Since Sheikh Fahim Al-Qasimi, our project ambassador, set up the 800 turtle toll-free number, it is very easy for anyone to know what to do when they find an injured sea turtle," said Lang-Lenton.

"There are new marine conservation and rehabilitation facilities in the country, and the community is growing healthily," Lang-Lenton said. "We could not do the work we do without everyone's help because the animals we help are brought to us by the general public."

One of the turtles released today, June 12, was named Hook. She was found floating in the sea near Fujairah, with a debilitating fish hook stuck in her esophagus. Hook had been rescued by the Fujairah Research Centre and transported to the Jumeirah Centre on New Year's Eve.


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